After Mercedes struggled to gather pace in the Bahrain Practice sessions, George Russell still expected to place further up the grid than 9th for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. While he didn’t expect to be able to compete with the likes of Ferrari or Red Bull, Russell had been outperforming teammate Lewis Hamilton throughout practicing and Q1, this result for the Briton doesn’t sit nicely with him.
Mercedes has been struggling with porpoising for the last few weeks while other teams have been able to figure out how to counteract the issue, and even team principal Toto Wolff had admitted that “I am just realistic, and at the moment, like I told you last week, we are not going to be in the race for a win.”
After qualifying, Russell commented on the lack of pace:
“In Q2 I was pretty happy to be honest, the car felt good, I was happy with the [tyre] warm-up,” he said to Sky Sports.
“And I just tried something different. We only had one set of tyres and I really pushed on my out-lap and at Turn 1 I just had no grip.
“I went one second slower than I did in Q2 and I was expecting to go a couple of tenths faster.
“It was a real shame. I’m glad I tried something. But it’s easy in retrospect.
“We’re not where we want to be, obviously P9 is much lower than where the car is.
“But we’re doing everything we can to get the car to the front and fighting the Ferraris and the Red Bulls.”
Wolff defended his driver, however, admitting that it was his team’s strategy that was wrong this time:
“It was probably us misguiding him in his last outing because we advised him to push on the out-lap even stronger and he probably had no edge anymore to the new tyre,” he said.
Russell isn’t feeling optimistic about the future, though.
“I feel like we’re going one step forward, two steps back,” he revealed.
“We feel like we’re making progress and then suddenly we’re back into the same issues as we faced.
“It’s difficult because we’re so focused on solving the overarching issue of the car that it’s difficult to nail down on the details and finetune the thing.
“This is what it’s about at the moment. We want to be fighting for victory and we need to be trying everything we can to get to that.”
Hamilton shared the same thoughts, placing fifth on the grid behind Ferrari and Red Bull. According to the 7-time world champion, the car is “a bit of a nightmare to drive,” and because of this, deems Red Bull. to be “in another league.”
We’ll see how long it takes Mercedes to fix their porpoising issue, and when they do, will it be too late?